TOTALLY BONKERS ABOUT THE FIERY FURNACES
So the Fiery Furnaces are releasing a new album in June. We can't talk about that yet though. Have you heard their last album? Its called Gallowsbird's Bark and its damn nifty. Go get it.
What? You don't like it? First of all, shut up. Second of all, listen to it again... Okay. You're beginning to come around. Give it some time. Come back in one week.
Okay! Hey! Yeah, you're welcome, I know. I KNOW. So yeah, that was a pretty sextacular album, wasn't it? One problem I had as a pop dude: not so many choruses. Now, I know what these kind of bands go for with their 'defiance of traditional song structure' and you know that that means they can't successfully utilize energy in a song, otherwise they wouldn't be afraid of people remembering their music. Okay. Back off. So: you hear the little megaphone noise that starts the album and you're thrown into hysterics. You hear the part where the organ rhumba box speeds up at the end of "Bow Wow" and you think "I've done that before, that's so fun!". You hear the parts where the guitar and bass which usually on records like this (well there are no Records like this, but you know, the inferior 'like this') ahem which usually on records like this are played with the proficiency of a ninth grader (though God Bless 'Em, with all the zeal of Jimmy Page) but hey, these guitar lines are pretty dang proficient. "Don't Dance Her Down" anyone? Pretty dang efficient indeed. And when the record gets to "Rub Alcohol Blues" and the bass and piano are outlining what we're all thinking: Sheezam! That's about where you should be. So, like me, you are probably waiting for their next album with your finger on the trigger of a gun and your gun pointed at a mailbox.
Well the wait is worth it. Shoot it. Shoot that gun. Blueberry Boat, the quick follow-up to history's favorite debut is smashtacular like your aunty wouldn't want you to believe. It rollicks it rocks, it tosses those dinner rolls out all over the table and forces you to pick them up and apologize, even though your actions were in the spirit of the moment, and then the moment moves on to the next and you aren't picking up and apologizing for dinner rolls, you're kung-fu fighting in a San Fransisco tunnel of some sort, maybe on a bridge. And the music isn't that old cliche' kung fu music that everybody says they love but can't find a non-boring example of it. I guess its the action that meets the music. But this time as you kung fu fight your worries away (and cars are driving underneath) you have the Fiery Furnaces to keep you company like so many a squandered night away at the arcade.
This album changes moods like your crazy art teacher that is one moment showing you how to clean a brush, the next second holding you hostage at brushpoint, and just like that exact same teacher, full of wonderful stories that are told in a wonderful fashion like you'll never know. About how she knocked off a bank in Texas and then rode a giant fish all the way up to Norway and there she met the king and the king asked for her hand in marraige but she said no way and accepted a lifetime supply of Doritos in exchange, which she had no need for, so she donated them to the Orphan's Home in Taiwan, where she found her future son-in-law. Its like that, only with music and better. And the music? Its better. More concise.
Remember what I said about the songs not having any choruses? Well now they don't have verses either. Which is a good thing for this sort of thing. They get bored quick this time around, so they change to the next part of the song, which they haven't even written yet. So they use their wacky sibling psychic powers and groove that sucker out. It opens with a bit of the ol' electronics, you'll think you were listening to the new Radiohead or something (except there's no slurred political vagueness in sight). The electronics are gone in a prog flurry by the four and a half minute mark. And then the guy in the band starts singing. And then the electrick blues come in. And then the guitars do a cool thing. Guitars in general do lots of things without me being excited, but there's exciting/excited guitar all over this song. The guy says 'pepsi' I think, which makes me all sort of giddy. I'm sure this would all be SICK with the speakers and equalizers and maximizers all the way up to 10 or 0 or 500% or whatever those things are. But I'm in an apartment with thin walls, so I'm being quiet as a courtesy to my televisioning flatmates.
I should really be reading Henry Fielding's "Joseph Andrews" right now.
Wah wah guitar comes pretty close to its hilarious potential here. I'm sure its the funnies thing ever if your stoned. It got dark outside just now without me knowing. I saw it and thought 'uh oh'. There's a couple minutes of just the girl singing and guitar going and tambourine and something else hitting. Squiggly keyboards come in that are more like the year 1975 than the year 2001 the song began in. The next song "Straight Street" opens with more of those zany zoopy guitars sliding up and down the countries border. Pianos come in disrespectfully not paying attention to the key that the other pianos are playing in. As soon as it all gets sorted out somebody on the left someone is applauding with those things you hit your family to sort out differences with and someone on the right is pretending that the applause is for them, going all silly with a slinky that thinks its a guitar. The 'chorus' part begins and its all the kooky guitars and the disobedient pianos and some drums together. At the end of the 'chorus' bit, the girl says 'cause I got there too late' but really fast, like a kid pretending to do jazz. Or if they could actually articulate that that was what they were trying to do. Also, I should add that she's saying really brilliant stuff really fast, so its like rap in that respect. And its sassy like independent music. I bet rap people never make their own clothes. They have sweatshop kids do it for them. T-Bozz: Clothing with a kick. Am I right?
After the third chorus it gets sad, but nothing can truly be sad with a woh woh woh synth bass thing. Some descending chromatics in a wonderful melody. The guy comes back and starts clapping again. Organs and the girl. An angry wah guitar. I might add its amazing that with these noises they are able to achieve the clarity and purpose of melody across. Some funny violin noises going up. I always wanted violins to do that instead of playing normal boring dah dah bah bah stuff. Sitting at the symphony waiting for a band director or instrument repair technician to say 'screw it' and play the next part of the Bore-inski's third boring symphony the way I want to hear it. Then he storms off the stage and across the parking lot to his Geo Metro and drives off to a fast food place cause he's Damn Hungry.
It goes into the title track then and its doing more of that electric stuff but funnier. Electric music isn't always as funny as it should be. Then a drum comes in and a guitar that goes down instead of up and its funnier. It would be great live if played by a band of cartoons. There's a little videogame part backed up by a piano. It sounds like the Fiery Furnaces, at all times, have a weird fairy godmother backing up their musical mischief with a piano, like nobody else may get it, but at least there's that piano part to hold on to. If you can't understand what's going on, just think of the piano as the nice bit that you can totally 'get'. A brief guitar bit. That's pretty cool. I hope it doesn't come back. Oh there it is. But with more guitars. That keyboard part sounds professional. When I hear melodies I think amateur or professional. There's like the melodies you write, which are okay but nobodies going to believe. Then there's the melodies that the professionals write, robots in fancy chairs, they are, and those are the meldoies that you don't want to admit that you know and you catch yourself in the company of others and humming it and then making up a song three or four notes in so that nobody catches you knowing a similar melody. They might catch you at it though, and then accuse you of being a jazzbo and then you'd be in hot water. They do a sing-a-long bit. Oh, I forgot to mention that the guy comes in and its surprising. Then it starts rocking again and people will actually start to rock to that part. Then pianos which are like the fairy godmother getting assaulted by the far-out parts of the band's rockitude, so she skips around for a while. And then there's some band-room soloing that nobody else will admit to liking. And the person that is playing is throwing in dissonant bits because dissonant is funny. And then the slinky guitars and stuff come back and they are bees. You'd better get away from their honey.
"But you ain't never getting the cargo of my blueberry boat" > okay, now we know. Things have been driving towards us, the melody the instrumentation the five or six songs-within-a-song, now we know there's some sort of purpose. The main melody is restated so we know where we are, its like a pinpoint on a map. A faint longitude and latitude, just so we can readjust our attitude. The piano goes wonky and then strings and other mellotronned sounds come in, we've never heard the Furnaces like this. A xylophone comes in and says 'there's more than just a fairy godmother watching over you'. Then robust synths beat back everything you just thought you knew to a chromatic conclusion. Pah. Breathe. phhhhew. Its over. But it isn't really. Cause that's just the first three tracks.